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Feat. Daft Punk, Travis Scott and DeLaSoul
Ephemeral Reviews, Essays and Opinions s°02.ep09 - 2020.05.05
In the coming months maybe years, valuing a business will be a headache. Resilience will be the number one capacity to appraise. Amazon shows the way of an antifragile / more than resilient trade - its market cap increased by over 20% since the beginning of 2020 - promising almost no profit before long despite its growth. Link (S)
As Internet usage expanded tremendously in the previous decade and new incumbents (aka GAFA) developed strong positions, tech has become a zero-sum game. It’s no more about R&D prowess, but about marketing smarts, with difficult high-hanging fruits to pick. Could it open a new era for financial skills in startupland? Link (T)
10 days ago, Fortnite hit a record for drawing the biggest live audience in the hit game's history: over 12.3 million concurrent Fortnite players participated live in rapper Travis Scott's concert. Last week, Animal Crossing, the most kawai metaverse made the news too, mimicking global central bankers by dropping its Bank of Nook interest rates. (S)
Analyst Venkatesh Rao offers an all-encompassing theory on the phases through which societies and individuals evolve: tools, alternatives, disruptions, macro-rebuilds for the former; reorientation, revaluation, resituation and regeneration for the latter. Link (T)
Recently, I made my girlfriend listen to the intro of He's the Greatest Dancer by Sister Sledge, and asked her to figure out who had sampled it. I thought the answer was obvious enough (it’s featured in Gettin' Jiggy Wit It by Will Smith) but was amazed by her actual response… Daft Punk?
I hadn't expected that, but it was highly relevant: Nile Rodgers, the creator of Chic and famed producer, was behind both Sister Sledge's song and Get Lucky, hence the similarities between the two pieces, certainly attributable to his distinctive bass lines.
As a matter of fact, diving into Daft Punk’s works through the website WhoSampled a few years back emptied most of the admiration I had for the iconic French duo. Because these guys sampled everything! Most of the melodies we love in their most celebrated songs were created by others:
When you love Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, you’re listening to Edwin Birdsong.
When you love Robot Rock, you’re listening to Breakwater.
When you love Digital Love, you’re listening to George Duke.
And when the Daft Punk don’t sample, they go fetch Nile Rodgers to craft real originals.
This drives me crazy: Daft Punk are celebrated but who ever pays tribute to their samplees, which to me feel like the real creators here? At least in other musical genres like rap sampling is known to be part and parcel of the game (e.g. Dr. Dre sampling Charles Aznavour). So if they’re geniuses, it’s rather for their encyclopedic knowledge of music - which is a new kind of admiration that I incidentally developed for them through diving into their sampling records.
And it also sheds some interesting light on the comparison that used to be made with a later French duo, Justice (quite forgotten today): Justice doesn’t sample as much, at least not the central melody of their songs.
That’s where this story gets back to the central theme of this newsletter: the digital world. We loooove to idolize some entrepreneurs, creative minds that changed the course of history and brought progress to our world - the prime example being, of course, Steve Jobs. For sure they shape our world; maybe they accelerate history - but they don’t invent either one.
Like every one of us, they’re affected by their cultural, social, economic, technoscientific context, remixing building blocks and incrementally contributing others to scale companies and offer new products. But by no means do they innovate in a vacuum.
We definitely need a WhoSampled of digital innovation, with genealogies of the technical, business model and experiential atoms that evolved through ages and ages of startups. So as to remind ourselves that one of the great things about our species (and in our troubled period, it’s not bad to highlight some positives about humanity) is that we capitalize on each other’s work.
You may have seen this conversation lately. On one side, a human being, on the other, a bot trained by Facebook researchers on more than 9 billion parameters. Try to guess who is who. Of course, it is biased but still… (S)
We all feel our cities and their streets will have changed more in the last and next couple of years than in the whole previous century. And of course, there is a piece of software and a startup for that: Populus uses data from companies like Bird or Uber to help urban planners and public officials more effectively manage their roads, streets and sidewalks. Link (S)
Is the VC fund of the future a talent agency? Human Capital shows a smart way to create a deal flow: help engineers find jobs, and when they’ll be ready to launch their venture, be there to invest in entrepreneurs you’ve watched grow. Link (T)
Ok you got a match on Tinder, but then what? Relish is a relationship training app that coaches couples into success. Link (T)
One of my favorite moonshot bets for the coming decade is AI-generated stories on the fly. It is coming. A word at a time. Link (S)
Caught in a pandemic, we forgot to celebrate a major birthday for the tech ecosystem: 20 years ago, on March 10th 2000, the NASDAQ peaked and the dotcom bubble burst. So much has happened since: the iPod, the Web 2.0, the smartphone, streaming, ride-hailing, unicorns… I’d like to see that a proof that beyond every crisis lie progress and fun times. (T)
Oh, the good old days, when you could find science education kits with real uranium inside. Link (T)
Fascinating piece on modern archivists called Datahoarders, gathering on Reddit to store data on everything from old TV shows to music and web pages. They collect material by passion but part of their hobby is to use the best available technologies, distrusting for many reasons the cloud computing solutions we all use. Link (S)
Ring ring ring (ring ring ring)... Hey how ya doin'? Sorry ya can't get through, why don't you leave your name and your number and I'll get back to you. Link (DeLaSoul+S)
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Edited by Stéphane Distinguin (S), Founder and CEO of Fabernovel, and Tom Morisse (T), Fabernovel alum and Knowledge Manager at Spendesk, Stéréo is a digital-oriented newsletter highlighting the main developments and weak signals affecting the world’s societies and economies.
Fabernovel is a talent company that creates digital products and services to support companies in their transformation and innovation trajectory.
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